Travelers from Italy to undergo home quarantine from Friday

TAIPEI (CNA) — All travelers entering Taiwan from Italy will have to be quarantined for 14 days from Friday because of a sharp hike of the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak in that country, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) announced Thursday.

Starting at midnight Friday, all travelers arriving in Taiwan from Italy, regardless of nationality, will have to undergo home quarantine for 14 days, CECC head Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said at a press conference.

According to the CECC, individuals undergoing home quarantine are forbidden to leave their place of residence for 14 days. They will receive daily health-check calls from their borough chief and will also be under electronic surveillance through their cellphones during the two-week period.

Individuals who violate the terms of their home quarantine will face penalties, including mandatory medical isolation, under Taiwan’s Communicable Disease Control Act.

The latest measure was announced as the CECC raised its travel warning for Italy from Level 2 to Level 3, the highest on its three-tier scale, which urges people to avoid unnecessary travel to the destination.

So far, only China (including Hong Kong and Macau), South Korea and Italy are listed in the Level 3 warning.

To date, Italy has reported more than 400 cases of the disease and 12 deaths, with the health authorities there still unable to trace the source of the infections in nearly 90 percent of the cases.

This means there is already widespread community transmission of the coronavirus taking place in Italy, Chen added.

Italy has also become a major source of at least 18 coronavirus infections in 10 nearby countries — France, North Macedonia, Greece, Brazil, Spain, Switzerland, Algeria, Croatia, Austria and Germany — the CECC added.

The CECC has so far also issued Level 2 alerts for Japan, Singapore and Iran, advising people to remain vigilant and take extra precautions when visiting those destinations, and the lowest Level 1 warning for Thailand.